5 Things Your Relationship Says About You

BY: - 9 Jan '13 | Marriage

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Photo Credit: Katrina Brown

As a newlywed I’m reminded that my marriage says a great deal about my wife and I. We’re not alone. Relationships are one of life’s most precious resources and they require investments of both time and energy. Understanding the reflective nature of relationships is important because they provide important insight into our character, habits, insecurities, fears, flaws, and personalities. Here are few things I believe our relationships—both those we are a part of and those we leave—say about who we are and what we desire from life.

Self-worth
I’m sure we have all asked ourselves why anyone would stay in an unhealthy relationship with someone who is dishonest, unfaithful, manipulative, or emotionally and physically abusive. The answer to that question often involves a person’s perceptions of self-worth. Our society often associates self-esteem with accomplishments, but it is entirely possible for a person to be well-educated, wealthy, and have all of the indicators of success yet still not see themselves, or their relationships, in a healthy light. And while there are many things that positively contribute to a healthy sense of self, our insecurities, past relationships and the relationship experiences of friends and family can chip away at our perceptions of self and the types of relationships we think we deserve. Knowing your worth is important because it is silly to expect someone else to look at you as priceless when you see yourself as worthless.

Patterns of Behavior
If we were to look back over our lives, we would see that many of us have pursued, or attracted, the same types of people. Oftentimes this is due to issues of self-worth that were discussed above. We might also find that our relationships have followed similar story lines or exhibited similar patterns. This can be attributed to our unique personalities as well as our fears and past hurts. For example, a man’s desire to check in during a past relationship might have been due to the unfaithfulness of his then-girlfriend.  But, it will erode trust in a new relationship.

Spotting patterns is also a good exercise to determine our motives for the things we do.  For example, a woman might find her pattern of having sex with men early in the dating process is not out of her own desires but because she thinks it will make a man commit to a more serious relationship. Being honest about our patterns of behavior is important because new relationships will end the same way old ones did if we don’t address our own attitudes and actions.

Character
One thing I’ve learned from the high-profile affairs and sex scandals of famous men is that a person’s true character can’t be hidden. Even if you’re a master politician, athlete, or actor, who you are will eventually be revealed in your relationship. Many of our elected officials have shown that their lies typically don’t end with infidelity. If a man is willing to deceive his wife and children, whom he has pledged to love and protect, I don’t see why his constituents, customers, fans, etc. would expect absolute honesty in his professional endeavors. Character in relationships is not just a matter of being faithful. It also involves the level of patience, forgiveness, honesty, and kindness we show our mate.

Personal and Relationship Values
In addition to being reflections of our character, our relationships are also values statements. They demonstrate how we handle the things we hold most dear and say a great deal about our priorities. The irony is that they also reveal the distance between how we live and what we say we believe. For example, if a man of a particular faith says that he wants to be with a woman with similar beliefs but consistently dates women who don’t share his beliefs, it’s clear that his actions are out of alignment with his stated desires. The same is true for a married couple that says they value saving but racks up debt trying to live a lifestyle that they can’t actually afford.

How Others See You
Relationships, particularly marriage, are some of the best tools for self-reflection because they force us to face parts of ourselves that we either don’t see or would rather ignore. My wife has an all-access pass to my life and sees me at my very best and very worst. Our relationship is a great indicator of my emotional, spiritual, and social growth as an individual and husband. My wife plays an important part in helping me evaluate whether I’m as patient, kind, affirming, and communicative as I think I am. If the atmosphere in our home is characterized by tension and combativeness, however, there’s a good chance that one, or both, of us is failing to demonstrate love consistently.

Oftentimes our behavior in relationships reflects identities that haven’t fully formed, maturity that hasn’t fully been realized, and hearts that haven’t fully healed. That’s why understanding your identity and purpose is so important before entertaining a serious relationship, especially marriage. It is extremely difficult to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t know, and isn’t comfortable with, who they are. Understanding what relationships—past, present, and future—say about us is one of the best ways to protect ourselves from getting into situations that are clearly not in our best interest. When our relationships speak we would be wise to listen.

BMWK, what is your relationship saying about you? What do your relationship patterns say about your self-worth, character, strengths, weaknesses, and values?

About the author

Delano Squires wrote 25 articles on this blog.

Delano Squires is a blogger and public policy strategist in Washington, D.C. His primary interests are contemporary African American culture, fatherhood, and families. He is also a contributor to The Root.

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12 WordPress comments on “5 Things Your Relationship Says About You

  1. Elle

    I love what you said about our relationship reflecting where we need to grow. I think i fought this fact the first 5 or so years of my marriage. When I figured that out it helped me make changes that created authentic intimacy in our relationship. In a marriage often we look at our partner to change when most often we must look at ourself. So poignantly put!

    1. Delano Squires

      Thanks Elle. You exercised some major foresight in being able to see that issue before it got too bad. We could all learn a lot about areas of growth in our lives if we listen to what our relationships say to us (and about) us.

  2. Pingback: Keep Your Spouse's Mind Occupied with Positive Thoughts of You | Black and Married With Kids.com - A Positive Image of Marriage and Family

  3. Pingback: A Man In A Relationship Is Far More Attractive Than A Man Who Is Not « From Ashy to Classy

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Men Need Relationship Advice Too!!

BY: - 9 Jan '13 | Marriage

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Much of the relationship advice that I hear or read now-a-days is geared towards women.  I can’t turn on the TV, pick up a book, or read an article on the web, without hearing someone telling women, and especially black women, what they need to do to have successful healthy relationships.  And for the most part, I am happy to take what I need and to filter the rest of it.

I ran across an article the other day written by Dr. Corey Guyton, Black Women are Not the Only Individuals Who Need Relationship Advice,   where he says he too was guilty of focusing primarily on giving Black women advice early in his career:.

“I AM GUILTY AS CHARGED! At one point in my writing career, I focused specifically on giving Black women advice about dating. At the time I thought I was doing something noble, but now that I have been in the profession for some time and had an opportunity to explore the works of many writers, I have realized that writing to Black women has become the popular thing to do.”

“Unfortunately, a lot of us do not fully address the totality of relationship issues in the Black community because one cannot find a solution to a problem if all parties are not addressed. As I have always been told, it takes two to tango and there are two sides to every story. For anyone who has aspirations of getting into the business of giving relationship advice or if you are currently giving relationship advice, realize that this business should not be about building your name on the back of the easy target, Black Women.”

After reading Dr. Guyton’s aricle, my first thought was that I agree;  Most of the advice that I see is geared towards women.  I have also noticed, that at least for our site, women make up the largest part of our audience and most of our writers are women.  And since we ask our writers to write from their own personal perspectives…then most of the articles and advice will be geared towards women.  And the same goes for our male writers…they are talking to the men when they write.  (By the way, we are looking for more male writers.) And then there are many articles that are geared towards the relationships as a whole.

But Dr. Guyton’s article made me think of something else that I read every day on this site and around the web…..Men and Women blaming each other rather than addressing the issues they they are bringing to the relationships.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read:

“That’s nice..but what about the men, they need to be working on themselves too!”

“Or, women need to make some adjustments too…what about them.!”

Not every article or book is going to address both sides of the equation.  There are going to be some that are geared specifically for men or women.  So, while I do believe that we could use more articles that address men, I also think that people should be careful not to miss out on learning what they can do improve their situations.

BMWK – what are your thoughts.  Do you agree with Dr. Guyton? If you are married, does your spouse read relationship articles or books?  Do you read them together?

About the author

Ronnie Tyler wrote 526 articles on this blog.

Ronnie Tyler is the co-creator of BlackandMarriedWithKids.com and co-producer of the films Happily Ever After: A Positive Image of Black Marriage, You Saved Me, Men Ain't Boys and Still Standing. The proud mom of 4 has been selected by Parenting Magazine as a Must-Read Mom and is one of Babble's Top 100 Mom Bloggers.

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